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The Beginner’s Guide to Your Sun, Moon, and Rising Sign

There’s no denying that the phenomenon of astrology has gained popularity over the past few months, and with this came a whole new range of terms that I had never heard of before. I knew what my sun sign was, but my mind was pretty much blown when my friends wanted to know my exact birth time and city for a better reading of my entire personality. While partially fascinated, I was equally confused by the idea that every person has a different zodiac sign for every planet that orbits in our solar system, let alone they all play unifying parts in who we really are. 

If you're somewhat lost like I was when it comes to basic astrology, here’s some helpful information about your sun, moon, and rising signs, so regardless of being a Gemini or Libra or Aquarius, you'll be ready to hit the world with the whole sh-bang the next time someone asks. Plus, it’s fun to ponder a few of the reasons you might be truly and uniquely "you."


Sun Sign

Your sun sign is the sign you probably already know (since you can tell anyone’s sun sign just from where their birthday happens to fall), not requiring any further information to really tell who a person may really be as a whole. Your sun is what gives you your strongest, consistent personality traits throughout your life, what motivates you for action, and also has the greatest influence on how you perceive your own self-image. Although your sun sign is the tip of the iceberg, knowing your basic sun sign is the foundational place to start when understanding basic astrology, as it can be a helpful guide to understand what makes you “tick,” where you seek power and control of your life, and what represents who you are in the present. 

Additionally, each sun sign has a “ruling” planet (or possibly two), that is believed to be the planet that has its primary influence on you. Additionally, your sun sign can be an air, fire, earth, or water sign, and you’re often likely to be the most compatible with your own or the other two signs in your element. These are the people who likely intellectually and emotionally express themselves in the same way that you do. 

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Moon Sign

While you probably have a grip on what your sun sign is, your moon sign may be more hidden, literally—this, in contrast, rules your inner moods, how you process your emotions, and determines your deepest needs to feel “at home.” Importantly, your moon sign likely sets a ground for how you emotionally connect to others and what you seek in relationships, which is why many astrology fanatics consider it to be even more of a player in your romantic relationships with others, even more than your sun sign. 

While your sun is something easily evaluated on the surface by even those who’ve just met you, the moon’s position in the sky changes every couple of days and isn’t guaranteed to be the same as your sun sign. This is where time and location become important in getting an accurate calculation of it. 


Rising Sign 

Rising sign, also known as your ascendant, according to Cosmopolitan, “describes which zodiac sign in the sky was ascending the eastern horizon at the moment you were born.” In summary, it reflects who you are as a social being, as this is the sign that people most likely see when they first meet you, when the rest of your chart, including your sun and possibly moon, tend to reveal themselves through later conversations. Additionally, your rising sign is often considered by astrologers to be the way you introduce your true self to the outside world, whether that be through fashion, appearance, identity, or overall outward personality. It, in turn, also determines where your “houses” start, with your rising sign being the start of your first house. Your rising sign is often defined as “the mask you wear,” meaning it plays a part in both the first impressions other people make of you, as well as being a precursor to your initial responses to your changing environments. 

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Interested in learning more about your entire natal chart? Calculate your specific chart for free on Astro-Charts, or download the free app Co-Star for personalized horoscopes based on your three major signs. And of course, the world-wide web is a great source for all things astrology, too. 

Hailey Hummel

Washington '23

Hailey is a current junior at the University of Washington, majoring in Public Health—Global Health (with departmental honors), and minoring in Law, Societies, and Justice. She loves hiking, traveling around the state of Washington and the world, making art, playing piano, taking pictures, and spending time with her friends.
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